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Fostering Critical Thinking in Children and K-12 Students

Young student in green shirt using his critical thinking skills while problem-solving

Importance of developing K-12 critical thinking skills

The development of core critical thinking skills and mindset in K-12 and elementary school children is the foundation of student learning, academic progress and future workplace success.

Critical thinking skills can be developed from a very early age

Research shows what parents and teachers already know:

  • The development of thinking skills starts at home when children are first beginning to use language and continues throughout their educational experiences.  Although knowledge and experience may be limited, many times each day children apply their critical thinking skills to analyze information, interpret events and situations, evaluate claims and credibility, and assess the reasons offered for why they should think or do something.

K-12 students learn and practice critical thinking in class

Children engage in critical thinking when they use reflective reasoning and analysis to internalize classroom material deeply.

  • If life were a game of Jeopardy, then education would be nothing more than memorizing facts.  But educators at all levels know that deep learning is so much more.  Deep learning requires the cognitive skill to analyze, to interpret, to draw applicable inferences, to explain, and to see the interconnections of ideas and facts. These are critical thinking skills. Students engage in critical thinking when they approach problem solving and decision making in their daily lives by applying prior experience, developing a strategy, and then anticipating potential outcomes of the options as they see them

Students must be internally motivated to think critically

Thinking well also requires students to be internally motivated to think critically when faced with problems to solve, ideas to evaluate, or decisions to make. 

  • One must be both willing and able to think well to be a strong critical thinker. The attributes, values, and inclinations associated with reasoning well are dimensions of one’s mindset and they predict how likely a person is to approach problem identification and problem solving by using their reasoning.

Role of parents and teachers in development of K-12 critical thinking

Parents and teachers play important roles in nurturing the development of the core reasoning skills and attributes that will be the foundation of a child’s future academic progress.

  • The more children are supported and challenged to exercise their core critical thinking skills, the stronger these skills become.  Students possessing strength in critical thinking are better equipped to solve problems, to understand and to integrate content material, and to achieve in school.

Significance of assessment in development of K-12 critical thinking

Well designed assessment programs are important components of ensuring that children are developing the strength of thinking skills they need to succeed in school and in the workplace.

  • Increasingly schools worldwide are emphasizing growth in critical thinking as an important learning outcome.  EDUCATE INSIGHT is a program of research-based, validated series of assessment tools calibrated to measure thinking skills and mindset of kindergarten through high school students. 
  • Individual assessment reports can be used by teachers, counselors and parents to discuss a student’s learning motivation and readiness for planned educational programs. Group reports benchmark students against the national population in terms of critical thinking skills, describing the relative strengths of the group and identifying areas of general weakness that can be used to guide curriculum development.
  • Quick, easy to administer, Insight Assessment test instruments deliver results that are locally relevant immediately in the classroom and for accreditation purposes. 

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